I just took an actual lunch break: a period of time during which I sat down and ate a meal slowly and contemplatively, while reading for pleasure.
Often, I forget to eat, or I eat at my desk, or I consume a Mason Jar of trail mix over the course of a day. Usually, I am bolting my food, either while I feed Finn, or while I focus on what I have to do next, or, indeed, while I actually do what I have to do next.
So how about we talk a little bit about Motherhood and Resentment?
We know it's out there, though these two words are not tied together as much as "Motherhood and Fulfillment" or "Motherhood and Joy" or other cuddly comparisons. Motherhood and Resentment. Just this morning as we readied the family for work and day care, I remarked that, as a mother, I am now merely an extension of my family. This happened after Pete told me to stop getting Finn's bottles ready and get myself ready.
"There is no 'me' anymore," I said.
Being the mother is different, and there are biological and societal reasons for this sublimation of self. I don't know how much I feel like getting into The Patriarchy right now. Even on a full stomach, that's a big topic, which tends to provoke eye rolling from those who believe that we live in a post-feminist world (all evidence to the contrary). But biologically, I am dependent upon Finn, and he upon me, due to breast feeding. I need him to keep supply up, and he needs me to provide food. You could say that is my "choice," but I don't view it that way: it's my responsibility. And it means that, without a significant backstock, I don't have the freedom to just go somewhere for a night, or a long day, because I don't have the food for him.
It's something that is always on my mind, and I have to pump while at work, and sometimes at home, to have enough for him to get through his days away from me. I was short four ounces this morning, meaning I had to defrost one of my perhaps three extra bottles. Meaning that I have to come up with 12 ounces over the course of today and the weekend to be ready for Monday and to replace the one that I used. So I am pumping every two hours today at work, and I am going to try to either nurse or pump every two hours over the weekend, to get there and maybe boost my supply. I am adding supplements and loads of water to that equation to assist in this endeavor. It's very difficult to fit pumping in when you are with the baby. It sometimes results in pumping while nursing, which Finn finds enormously interesting, making it even harder to do.
Pete has the luxury, as I have written before, of "getting" to take care of Finn. He also has the luxury to go play music with friends, both at rehearsals and at gigs in bars. Where they serve alcohol. To adults. At night! I hear they do this now...
He does not have to think: "Oh man, I am up late, and this is totally going to suck when I get home and have to deal with the baby all night and not get any sleep at all." For me, going out often creates more work and exhaustion on the other end, thus not being a "break" at all.
Yesterday, I came home from work to find that Pete and my mom had created my evening for me. If I wanted, Finn and I could go up with Mom to my brother's house and have dinner, all while Pete went to rehearsal. After which, Pete would pick me up, and we would go home. I weighed these things as Mom and I picked up a reupholstered chair, dropped off books and DVD's at the library, and picked up our box of veggies. Did I need to wash diapers for day care? If I left the house, what would I not be getting done? What could I get done home alone with Finn? If I left, I would not be able to pump. If I left, I would not be in control of my comings and goings. I would be dependent upon Pete to pick me up on time, which is practically an impossibility.
Pete was late, and I was pissed. I was exhausted; Finn was tired. It would be too late for me to pump when I got home because I was too tired. Finn screamed half the way home. I got a headache. I was seething and filled with resentment. Over all of it. He gets to go and rehearse? Play music and have fun with people he likes? And then be late to get me, possibly causing many disruptions over the course of a night's sleep? He gets to do all sorts of things, and I "get to" be with the baby. Even the freelance work we both have taken over the summer: I am fitting mine into my time, and he is fitting his into our time, or that's what it feels like. I edit pages while I pump at work, when I used to be able to knit and listen to public radio. Or I edit pages while nursing. Or in the rare times Finn naps for me (when I should be washing dishes or sorting yard sale crap).
I resent that I am no longer the me who I once was. I resent that I don't have the freedom to just do what I want to do, not that I ever really did. Not that any of us really do. I just resent that it's glaring to me, every single day, that I can't... I can't... I can't...
It doesn't mean that I am going to run off and, I don't know, see the sights in, say... Buenos Aires, or that Pete and Finn's story will be made into a Lifetime Movie of the Week, with me as the Thelma AND the Louise. It doesn't really mean anything. It's just a testament to the roller coaster that is motherhood; another addition to the chronicle of American female existence; a minor addendum to the lactational litany; a simulacrum of... no. Not going there.